Rolleicord is budget priced brother of mighty Rolleiflex which open ‘120 type TLR’ in the world. With simplified mechanism, it targeted Amatuer market
from the beginning while Rolleiflex targetted professional market. When its heyday, Franke und Heideke devoted 60% of production line for Rolleicord.
Pre-war type and Post-war type
‘Which war you are talking about?’
It’s sad that we have had too many wars after World War II, thus young generation would confused which war I mean…
Pre-war type is models before WW II. All have Carl Zeiss Jena ‘Triotar’ lens. Lens coating was not available yet then.
Triotar is a Triplet design which consisted with 3 lens element in 3 group and a budget sibling of Tessar which has 4 elements in 3 groups,
nick named as Eagle Eye due to its amazing sharpness & contrast.
From user’s point, Pre-war Rolleicord is not so attractive because of its inferior lens performance and no real difference in price comparing to
Post war models. Clean pre-war examples can be regarded as collectable, hence patch higher price than other usable ones.
Post war models produced after WW II equiped with much desirable Schneider Xenar lens. Xenar is the equivalent of Tessar from west German
optical house, Schneider Kreutznach, thus Rolleicord had the same optical performance with Rolleiflex (for a while). Later Rolleiflex upgraded lens;
3.5 Tessar (Automat) –> 2.8 Tessar (A type) –> 2.8 Biometar (B type) –> Planar or Xenotar (C type and after)
But even after much improved Planar, Xenotar lens available, there was strong demand and preference to Tessar lens (performance and budget) .
So F&H revived Tessar lens to Rolleiflex T model later. There were Rolleiflex Ts which have actually Xenar lens instead of Tessar thus
should be called as Rolleiflex X. This is not easy find in the market at all….
* Typo error –> Producer name of Triplet is ‘Taylor Hopson’. I will re-load Drawing after correction *
Focus Knob in right side or left side
Focus knob is located at right hand side (when you grap) for all pre-war models and models up to Rolleicord V in post-war.
Last 2 models, Rolleicord Va & Vb have the knob at left hand side.
The reason is Va & Vb have the unique function, no other Rolleicord or not even higher grade Rolleiflex have, convertible to 16 shot and 24 shot.
Don’t be confused with Rolleiflex F’s 24 shot function which is using 220 type film for 24 shot or 120 type film for 12 shot. Rolleicird Va, Vb use
120 type film to produce 2.5cm X 5.5cm negative in case of 24 shot (panorama photo) and 4cm X 5.5cm in case of 16 shot setting, ame as 645 format.
Rolleicord Va, Vb are the more desirable as picture taking tool because they are relatively newer machines, on top of unique convertible function
We should not underate III, IV and V type Rolleicord though. As long as they are reasonablely clean, they will deliver outstanding performance,
handling experience and German engineering quality for you.
Some of Triotar has coated after WW II when they return to factory for repair. But in general coated Xenar delivers better (coated or not) Triotar.
Especially color, coated lens renders purer and cleaner colors. In Black and White photography, some photographers love to use un-coated lens
for growing highlight, somewhat washed out but rendered like aura as creative tooling. Even in this case though, un-coated Tessar is preferred to
un-coated Triotar anyway. (Uncoated tessar is available in pre-war Roleiflexes)
After WW II, lens supply from Carl Zeiss Jena was hampered seriously. Jena occupied by Russian Army and Carl Zeiss Jena factory has stripped down
together with Zeiss Ikon factory in Dresden as loot. Franke und Heideke in Braunschweig, West Germany needed 2nd supplier urgently to resume their
production. It’s logical choice to select Schneider which played as 2nd largest photographic lens supplier & offered the same performance optics
to the market before WW II. Xenar lens supplied to all subsequent Rolleicords and some part of Rolleiflexes while Carl Zeiss Jena (East Germany)
and Zeiss Opton (West Germany) supplied Tessar lens to Rolleiflexes. For your information, Tessar was never supplied to Rolleicord.
Evaluating classic camera & its criteria need to be different from quality standard when they produced to use day to day (or week to week) photgraphy
session successfully. They spend many decades on different owners & environment, and perhaps went through rough lifetime in that period.
Cosmetic condition is the one of important indicator to identify their history. Of couse, there’s chance that previous owner did face lift for ugly looking,
worn out camera to shiny, bright looking one. Problem is we never know unless we dismantle & look inside the machine. So better to forget about it
One practical tip is avoiding ‘absolute clean’ example because it will cost more definitely, and most likely stored long time on shelf without occsionaly use
(that’s why it is Mint, not good for mechanical shutter either). As user, not collectors, looking for ‘sign of use but clean in reasonable way’ is the best choice.
German engineers put enormous effort for reliability on their products, thus it will pay back to a little more time spending for careful searching, I believe.
Model type is not so critical either for users. For example, if compare to Rolleicord IV and V, I can say it really doesn’t matter which type, just pick up one
in better cosmetic condition. Both IV and V are older than 60 years. They are not much different for user in 2015. Also price difference of them is minimal.
In general, Rolleicord owned and used by Amateurs, while many Rolleiflex employeed by professionals and did endless hard labor. Rolleicord loaded
much lighter with Amateur’s demand I bet. With good condition Rolleicord, you’ll have very good chance to avoid fitfalls. For Rolleiflex I recommend to pay
extra attention to find out details of cosmetic condition if not test in hands.
Special Rolleicords, worth to mention and remember
Rolleicord Art Deco
First ever Rolleicord, Art-Deco is not easy to find good, clean condition. If have one, worth to keep it as collectible, but hard to recommend for users.
Vb is the last model of Rolleicord, and 2nd type with focus knob located at left side. On top of special feature for 16 & 24 shot capability, it has removable
focus screen and hood as the same as Rolleiflex E2 and subsquent models. Changing screen to bright one (either Rollei product or 3rd parties) and using
prism finder instead of standard waist level hood are possible. Those accessries are compatible with E2, E3 & F and make picture taking convinient & comfort.
Vb patched slightly higher price than older one, but has worth of the extra cost.
Be careful though, in Ebay in these days, some sellers ask unbelievably higher price for Vb. According to ‘sold list’ it never transacted in such a price.
It just a tactic to raise overall price range in Ebay community, by signaling to other players in there, may be?
Rolleicord Vb, White Face
White Face is special type, only existing in Rolleicord Vb, Rolleiflex T & Rolleiflex F. So price range is for collectors, not users.
It has distinctively different lens standard with different lettering which enhanced white metal surface look.
Speak frankly, I can not surely say whether it has worth of such and such price or not. In classic camera, rarity will get higher as time goes by.
Owners of this special camera could expect much higher price when they resell it. On the other hand, collecter interest may shift to other area or model,
therefore you can not find buyer in your ‘wish price’. Only I can say is collector’s point is not the same as user’s point…..
Rolleicord price reference in Ebay
The price range searched at a certain time (Mar, 2015) for ‘Sold Item’ in Ebay to see the actual selling price instead of seller’s ‘wish price’.
I took out highest and lowest data point which in general case of super mint condition, a lot of extra accessaries or known defect, and so on.
There is no fixed rule in E-bay price, so change to be surprised. But I provide this table for rough guideline on dynamic used market.